We rely on the Internet for nearly everything in life, but in the wake of a natural disaster or large-scale collapse of the power grid, it is possible that the Internet could become inaccessible.
Even a few days without it could cripple American society’s ability to manage money, practice commerce, and communicate.
Because of that, it is a good idea to reduce your dependence on the Internet by moving more of your needs offline.
Here’s five areas to get your started:
1. Banking. Out of convenience, most Americans do at least a portion of their banking online. There’s no harm in using an online account to manage some of your bill payments and financial transactions. Just don’t rely on it to maintain your records. Monthly or quarterly, download a paper statement from your bank, print it, and file it away. Additionally, make sure you have paper records for all of the accounts you hold. Do the same thing for any stocks or important records of assets; record them on paper. Better still, do most of your bank transactions in person, at a local bank; you’ll have greater security and get better customer service.
2. Maps. Relying on GPS or Google Maps to tell you how to get around your local area is foolishness. Purchase or download updated local maps and keep them where they can be easily referenced or found in case of emergency. GPS won’t be a reliable source of navigation if the power grid is compromised.
3. Reference materials. Whether you read books on a Kindle or tablet, follow websites relevant to your interests, or just get the news delivered digitally, it is important to keep a paper trail for the information you’ll need in the future.
You may not always be able to Google your way to an answer. Buy reference books relevant to setting up and maintaining a homestead, including home improvement encyclopedias and farming manuals. Printing information from often-referenced websites and filing it appropriately will ensure you’ll have the knowledge at your fingertips long after you can’t get it online. Best of all, develop your skills now so you will not need as many reference materials to accomplish tasks around the homestead.
4. Email. Discussing plans and making decisions by email has become commonplace. Create a personal file of email correspondence for each family member and for your business activities. When agreements are solidified by email, print the message and file it accordingly. In addition to backing up your knowledge of what was decided, the written correspondence is an important record in your family. Just as our prior generations preserved old letters, so we must preserve meaningful emails in order to tell the story of our families.
5. Contacts. Many people scarcely know their phone numbers, let alone those of their families and other close contacts. Maintain an address book containing all the contact information and locations of anyone you care about, as well as resourceful peers and acquaintances.
Knowing where to find someone important to you is the first step to reconnecting, and you don’t want to be left high and dry by an inability to access your contacts.
Bonus – Unplug These, Too
Photos. Of course, this is a little sentimental, but there’s more to life than practicality. Don’t simply store precious family heirlooms “in the cloud.” Kids today are being raised with very few printed photos documenting their lives. What a shame if all of those digital photos were lost! Create a photo album for each member of your family, or a family album documenting your lives together. The small investment of time and money could reap rewards for the rest of your life and become an important piece of your family’s heritage.
Entertainment. Learn to amuse yourself without surfing the web, clicking through Facebook, or playing online games. Part of being resourceful is being able to find and create entertainment with ready supplies — paper and pencil, card, and dice games are a great way to connect with your family and have a great time without plugging in. Invest in a book of activities and start gathering around the table more often, and you won’t miss the Internet so much in times of outage.
What would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below: